Last month, Black Lives Matter demonstrators in Bristol, UK, made headlines around the world when they toppled a statue of 17th-century slave trader Edward Colston and dumped it into the River Avon.
Now, the city has an entirely new figure being celebrated on the once-empty plinth: a protester.
British artist Marc Quinn has erected a statue depicting a woman with her fist raised in a Black Power salute in the place where Colston once stood. He based the artwork on a photograph of Jen Reid, a Bristol resident who had climbed atop the empty plinth as she returned home from the demonstration in June.
After contacting Reid, the artist produced a life-sized sculpture of the moment using black resin. In a press statement released Wednesday he said that the sculpture "is an embodiment and amplification of Jen's ideas and experiences, and of the past, present and her hope for a better future."
"My friend ... showed me a picture on Instagram of Jen standing on the plinth in Bristol with her fist in a Black Power salute," he said. "My first, instant thought was how incredible it would be to make a sculpture of her, in that instant.
"It is such a powerful image, of a moment I felt had to be materialized, forever. I contacted Jen via social media to discuss the idea of the sculpture and she told me she wanted to collaborate."
The work, officially titled "A Surge of Power (Jen Reid) 2020," is intended to be temporary. The artist confirmed that he did not received permission from authorities to erect the statue. Should the artwork be sold, Quinn said that profits will be donated to two charities, chosen by Reid, that promote the inclusion of Black history in school curricula.
"Jen and I are not putting this sculpture on the plinth as a permanent solution to what should be there -- it's a spark which we hope will help to bring continued attention to this vital and pressing issue," Quinn added.
"We want to keep highlighting the unacceptable problem of institutionalized and systemic racism that everyone has a duty to face up to. This sculpture had to happen in the public realm now: This is not a new issue, but it feels like there's been a global tipping point."
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